Civil War

"When among Unionists these limbs were of course lost in the service of the Union": A Masonic Impostor During the American Civil War

Masonic impostor 1864 webLong-time readers of our blog know that every May we return to the topic of our very first blog post: Masonic impostors. This year we highlight a document from our Digital Collections website, an American Civil War era circular letter warning other Masons of an itinerant Masonic impostor.

Olympia Lodge No. 1, a Masonic lodge in what was then Washington Territory - statehood would not come until 1889 - issued this letter warning other lodges to be wary of a man named "O. H. Treat, Tweed, or Treed," who had claimed to be a Mason and asked for financial help from the lodge.

Written by Elwood Evans, the Master of Olympia Lodge No. 1, this letter describes the appearance of "Treat" and his story claiming to be a Mason in need of assistance. The story is one that, Evans admits, upon first hearing, engenders sympathy:

He is about 6 feet in height, sallow complexion, dark hair, light blueish grey eyes, supposed to be about 32 years old, and uses two crutches to travel with. His sallow, sickly appearance, and the use of crutches, invite a sympathy, as would the first hearing of his story about his hip-disease, disease of the spine, rheumatism, kidney disease, gravel, and finally a deep-seated pulmonary affection. He said his father was blind from infancy; that his poor mother, lately made a widow, is but recently afflicted by her other son having lost a leg and right arm in the present war. When among Unionists these limbs were of course lost in the service of the Union; but if the crowd be of different sympathies, then the "story is changed." Before I could learn where such mishap occurred, he desired my views, as he said it was not politic to say which side his brother fought upon, as that would commit him.

However, as Evans described his attempt to determine whether "Treat" was indeed a Freemason, he encountered many red flags and conflicting statements. For instance, Evans noted that while "Treat" seemed very familiar with the various parts of known ritual exposures, he could not name the lodge he belonged to, despite claiming to have been a Mason for six years.

Are elements of the story told by the man known as Treat/Tweed/Treed true? Were any of those names his real name or were they all aliases? Was he a mere con artist or a man with a hard life seeking assistance on false pretenses during a time before government- and company-based insurance was commonplace? We may not find answers to these questions, but this document reminds us that even during times of conflict - perhaps especially during times of conflict - both Masons and those falsely claiming to be Masons sought aid from local lodges.

Want to read more about Masonic impostors? Be sure to check out all of our previous posts on the topic.

Caption:

Letter from Worshipful Master Elwood Evans of Olympia Lodge, No. 1, 1864. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts. MA 630.003. Museum purchase.


Online Exhibition - Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War

A1985_012_0733The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library invites you to explore our new online exhibition, “Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War” now available on the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. The objects in the exhibition are from a collection of over 1,000 Illustrated patriotic envelopes of the American Civil War that were donated to the museum by William Caleb Loring, 33° (1925-2011).

Following the November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) as President of the United States, seven states in which slavery was legal individually seceded from the Union. They did so because of Lincoln’s opposition to the expansion of slavery in the western United States. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas declared themselves the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.), and established a capital first in Montgomery, Alabama and then in Richmond, Virginia. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861, four more slave-holding states joined the Confederacy. The C.S.A. was never officially recognized by the United States or any foreign government. The American Civil War, fought between the Union and the Confederate South, lasted until 1865. Casualties on both sides, from death, disease, and wounds, totaled over one million.

Shortly after the war began, publishers began printing illustrated envelopes (also known as covers) related to the war. The designs treated a variety of subjects, such as soldiers, battles, and patriotism. Publishers released 3,000-4,000 individual Union designs and no more than 160 individual Confederate designs of this form of wartime propaganda. Americans quickly began collecting these envelopes and, as early as 1861, manufacturers marketed albums that consumers could fill with examples that they had acquired. Soldiers also put these envelopes to practical use, using them to mail letters home to their families. These envelopes offer an immediate view on the bold rhetoric and political passions of the American Civil War.

If you haven't already, be sure to visit the Museum's online exhibition website for more online exhibitions.

 


"Cartomania" and Sitting for a Carte-de-Visite Portrait

2008_038_59DS1Woman and Man Wearing Fraternal Regalia, 1860-1863. Henry R. Cornell (1836-1906). Ligonier, Indiana. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.59.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library holds over two hundred cartes-de-visite, or small souvenir photographs mounted on stiff card backings, in its collections. Though diminutive in size (approximately 2-1/2 by 4 inches), these cards were immense in popularity in the US and Europe during the mid-1800s, as they offered a much more affordable and convenient way to have one’s likeness reproduced than had been previously available. Patented in 1854 by French photographer André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (1819-1889), cartes-de-visite soon came to dominate the photography market, with “cartomania” reaching its apex around 1862. More like baseball cards than calling or visiting cards, cartes-de-visite were traded among friends and acquaintances, who collected them and put them into specially made albums. Stationery shops sold cards depicting celebrities and well-known figures, as well.

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Independent Order of Odd Fellows Member, 1860-1869. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.36.

The experience of having one's photograph taken for a carte-de-visite was detailed with humor and wit by none other than Charles Dickens (1812-1870) in an 1862 issue of the weekly literary magazine he founded, All the Year Round. For all the delights of these cards, Dickens noted, sitting for one was "not a pleasant performance to go through." After entering the "dismal house" where the typical studio was located, the subject was shown into a cramped, darkened space strewn with well-worn props; "dazzled and oppressed by the glare of light above his head" the sitter in his "environment of pillar and curtain" had to hold his pose for the "utterly exhausting" thirty seconds it took to capture the likeness. "Terrific are the temptations of those thirty seconds," Dickens observed, when the sitter had to keep perfectly still and hold a steady gaze on some doorknob or keyhole. His account goes a long way in explaining the serious or stiff expressions on many subjects' faces.

Cartes-de-visite were more than just a cultural craze, however. These small portraits offered a new medium for documenting and preserving one’s identity and allegiances. They were very popular with soldiers during the Civil War. As shown in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s collection (a sampling of which can be seen here), Freemasons and members of other fraternal organizations used them to convey information about their affiliations and achievements.

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Royal Arch Mason Wearing Sash and Apron, 1860-1863. Culber Brothers, Hodges. White River Junction, Vermont. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.52.

Eventually, the carte-de-visite was eclipsed in the realm of popular portraiture by the cabinet card, which was larger and therefore more eye-catching to display. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library will feature examples of cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards, and many other types of portraits in its upcoming exhibition, "What's in a Portrait?" To keep in touch while the Museum & Library is closed due to the stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts, please join us on Facebook and check out our online exhibitions and online collections. And, as always, we welcome your comments below.

 

References:

Harding, Colin. "How to Spot a Carte de Visite (Late 1850s-c.1910)." Science + Media Museum blog, 27 June 2013. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/find-out-when-a-photo-was-taken-identify-a-carte-de-visite/.

Dickens, Charles. "The Carte de Visite." All the Year Round. Vol. VII, April 26, 1862. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at http://www.djo.org.uk/all-the-year-round/volume-vii/page-165.html.

"Cabinet Card." City Gallery, copyright 1995-2005. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at http://www.city-gallery.com/learning/types/cabinet_card/index.php.

Volpe, Andrea L. "The Cartes de Visite Craze." The New York Times. August 6, 2013. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/the-cartes-de-visite-craze/.


New Acquisition highlights the challenges faced by Freemasonry in Post-Civil War South Carolina

A2018_009_002DS1As Union forces overtook South Carolina during the Civil War and after, many of the state’s Masonic Lodges were forced to suspend operations because of their members’ military service to the Confederacy and/or the displacement of the state’s civilian population. Such was the case in the city of Charleston, where Union shells fired by batteries on Morris Island prompted Charleston’s Masons to relocate their lodge at least twice, and in the city of Columbia, where the city’s lodge buildings were destroyed over the course of the war. At a meeting called by the Grand Lodge of South Carolina to “devise ways to obtain assistance” for the lodges under its jurisdiction, the Grand Lodge acknowledged its helplessness to aid its subordinate lodges and formed a committee to “urge our brethren abroad” to assist the state’s distressed Masons and Masonic Lodges.

While the war had devastated much of the state, including Georgetown, South Carolina’s, rice-growing economy, the city’s Masonic Lodge, Winyah Lodge, No. 40, had flourished. The Lodge’s “fine large building” had remained untouched, and its brothers continued their work uninterrupted until the summer of 1865, when Union soldiers occupied the city. The following circular letter from the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library documents the occupancy and destruction of Winyah Lodge’s building by Union soldiers of the 15th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the months just after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. In it, the authors, two of which served in the Confederate military, petition their fellow Masons, both North and South, to aid Winyah Lodge in the rebuilding of their “lost Temple.” They describe in detail how the white soldiers of the 15th Maine torched their lodge building in response to being “relieved by a Battalion of United States colored Troops” under the command of Colonel A. J. Willard. The circular letter provides a fascinating insight into the difficulties faced by the Fraternity, as well as the country, in post-Civil War America, as well as touching upon issues such as race.

In the aftermath of the destruction of their lodge building and its contents by the 15th Maine, Winyah Lodge’s efforts to collect restitution from the Federal Government for its losses were blocked until the passage of the Tucker Act of 1887. This act waived the sovereign immunity of the United States in certain lawsuits, and allowed citizens to sue the Federal Government. Inexplicably, and for some unknown reason, the Lodge failed to take advantage of this new law until 1906, when the Trustees of Winyah Lodge, No. 40, filed their case. In the following year, the court, which noted this suspiciously long gap between the incident in question and the filing of the case, ruled that it could not determine from the evidence presented who started the fire. 

 

 


Caption

Circular letter from Winyah Lodge, No. 40, to Pacific Lodge, No. 45, June 4, 1873. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 540.001

References

Boyd, Mary, and James H. Clark (2010). Georgetown and Winyah Bay. Charlestown, S.C.: Arcadia Pub.

Emanuel, S. (1909). An Historical Sketch of the Georgetown Rifle Guards and as Co. A of the Tenth Regiment, So. Ca. Volunteers, in the Army of the Confederate States. South Carolina: [no publisher]. Accessed: 27 June 2018. https://archive.org/details/02830886.3413.emory.edu

Shorey, Henry A. (1890). The Story of the Maine Fifteenth. Bridgeton, Me.: Press of the Bridgton News. Accessed: 27 June 2018. https://archive.org/details/storyofmainefif00shor

 “From the Quarries.” American Tyler 8, 1 (1894): 836-837. Accessed: 27 June 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=vctNAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22winyah%20lodge%2C%20No.%2040%22%20masons%20georgetown&pg=PA837#v=onepage&q=%22three%20months'%20vacation%22&f=false

U.S. Congress. Senate. United States Congressional Serial Set. Trustees of Winyah Lodge No. 40, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Georgetown S.C. 59th Cong., 2d sess., 1907. S. Doc. No. 225, serial 5071. Accessed: 27 June 2018. https://books.google.com/books/about/United_States_Congressional_serial_set.html?id=K-o3AQAAIAAJ

United States National Park Service. “Soldiers and Sailors Database: Emanuel, Solomon.” Accessed: 27 June 2018. https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=8FEEAE9A-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A


Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War - now on view

A1985_012_1020DSNow on view in the reading room of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library are a selection of 32 illustrated patriotic envelopes of the American Civil War. Nearly all of the envelopes on exhibition are from a collection of over 1,000 illustrated patriotic envelopes of the American Civil War that were donated to the museum by William Caleb Loring, 33° (1925-2011). 

Following the November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) as President of the United States, seven states in which slavery was legal individually seceded from the Union. They did so because of Lincoln’s opposition to the expansion of slavery in the western United States. A1985_012_0111DSSouth Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas declared themselves the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.), and established a capital first in Montgomery, Alabama and then in Richmond, Virginia. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861, four more slave-holding states joined the Confederacy. The C.S.A. was never officially recognized by the United States or any foreign government. The American Civil War, fought between the Union and the Confederate South, lasted until 1865. Casualties on both sides, from death, disease, and wounds, totaled over one million.

A1985_012_0563DSShortly after the war began, publishers began printing illustrated envelopes (also known as covers) related to the war. The designs treated a variety of subjects, such as soldiers, battles, and patriotism. Publishers released 3,000-4,000 individual Union designs and no more than 160 individual Confederate designs of this form of wartime propaganda.  Americans quickly began collecting these envelopes and, as early as 1861, manufacturers marketed albums that consumers could fill with examples that they had acquired. A1985_012_0297DSSoldiers also put these envelopes to practical use, using them to mail letters home to their families. These envelopes offer an immediate view on the bold rhetoric and political passions of the American Civil War.

Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War is on view in the reading room through December 1, 2018.

Captions:

Top left:
“USA,” 1861-1865
Published by Car Bell
Hartford, Connecticut
A85/012/1020

Top right:
“Remember Fort Sumter!,” 1861-1865
A85/012/0111

Bottom left:
“Traitor. Patriot,” 1861-1865
Engraved by Carpenter & Allen
Boston, Massachusetts
A85/012/0563

Bottom right:
“Haines’ Envelope Holder,” 1861
Published by J.M. Whittemore & Co.
Boston, Massachusetts
A85/012/0297

 

 


Digital Collections Highlight: Civil War Discharge Certificate

A2011_006_1DS1_webThe Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives' Digital Collections website features a rich collection of digitized documents from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

This week, in commemoration of Veterans’ Day, we highlight this Civil War discharge certificate, issued to James Foran in September 1864 at Philadelphia.

Foran (1840-1906), pictured below in a tintype portrait from the museum's collection, was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1859. Foran entered the service as a Private of Company G, 8th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry on September 2, 1861. He was wounded by a gunshot in the left side at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. James Foran tintypeOne of the major battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville took place near the village of Chancellorsville, Virginia, from April 30 to May 6, 1863. Foran was wounded on May 3, the fiercest day of fighting of the battle—a day that was also the second bloodiest day of the Civil War. The Battle of Chancellorsville resulted in heavy losses on both the Union and Confederate sides.

Nearly a year later, on May 1, 1864, Foran was transferred to the 162nd Company, 2nd Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps where he served at Cuyler General Hospital at Germantown, Pennsylvania. Originally organized as the Invalid Corps in 1863, the renamed Veteran Reserve Corps was organized at Cuyler General Hospital on March 20, 1864. The Corps was a military reserve organization created within the Union Army during the Civil War. In existence until 1869, its purpose was to allow partially disabled or otherwise infirm soldiers – or former soldiers – to perform light duty. Foran served with the Veteran Reserve Corps for four months, mustering out on September 3, 1864 at the expiration of his term of service.

In 1870, he married Mary Connell (1847-1913), with whom he had three children. Foran died in 1906 at the age of 65 and is buried in Lambertville, New Jersey.

You can check out other tintypes from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection here and other digitized Civil War-related Library & Archives items here.

 

Captions:

Civil War Discharge Certificate, 1864. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of George Sommer, USM 001.336.

James Foran, ca. 1861. United States. Gift of George Sommer, 2011.004.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 

 

 


A Civil War Masonic Military Lodge

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Interior View of Rustic Masonic Lodge, 1863, Sam A. Cooley; E.W. Sinclair, Folly Island, South Carolina, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.94.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In its collection,the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library has a number of Masonic and fraternal artifacts related to American Civil War history. Freemasons were among the thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers fighting throughout the four-year conflict. This stereocard shows a Masonic military lodge that was reportedly photographed in November 1863 on Folly Island, South Carolina. It was not uncommon for Masons in the military to form military or traveling lodges during times of war.  The 1st New York Engineer Regiment is believed to have established this particular lodge. They constructed the lodge with materials found on the island. This  photograph is one of the most unique Masonic lodge images in our collection.

Military lodges were usually connected to specific units. These lodges received a special dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the state in which the regiment was organized in order to be chartered and recognized as a lodge. Like other lodges, military lodges needed “volume of sacred law”, most likely a bible, and “working tools” commonly used in ritual, like a square and compasses. 

In 1861, the Grand Lodge of New York passed a resolution granting dispensations for military lodges with a stipulation that no men from outside of New York could be made Masons without the permission of the Grand Lodge. In addition, the dispensation had to be recommended by a lodge in the state and bear the names of seven petitioners. Many Grand Lodges granting dispensations for military or traveling lodges were concerned about how these lodges and their operations might impact the integrity of Freemasonry.  In 1863, due to overwhelming jurisdictional issues and questions about legality, New York passed a resolution against the "further establishment or continuance of military lodges."

These special lodges were just one of the many ways that Freemasonry was visible during the Civil War. For more information about our collection as it relates to Freemasonry during the Civil War please visit our previous blog posts at: http://bit.ly/1HD7som

To see this photograph and others from our collection on our HistoryPin map please visit:  http://www.historypin.org/en/person/64613  

 

References:

Halleran, Michael A., The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2010.

Ross, Peter, A Standard History of Freemasonry in the state of New York, New York: The Lewis Pub. Co., 1899.

Hyde, William L., History of the One hundred and twelfth regiment, N.Y. volunteers,Fredonia, NY: McKinstry, 1866.

 

 

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A Fraternity Goes to War: The History of a Masonic Civil War Certificate


From April 1861 until the end of September 1863, the Grand Lodge of Illinois issued 1,757 Masonic war certificates to Illinois Master Masons, and eventually to the sons of Master Masons, as a type of traveling certificate, which would vouch for their good Masonic standing to their Confederate brothers whom they would meet on the battlefield.

This certificate, a gift to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library from Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M., had been issued to Corporal Phineas Lovejoy of the 3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry on December 23, 1861. Research into his life reveals that Lovejoy had been elected Most Worshipful Master of Columbus Lodge, No. 227, and was the first cousin once removed of abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy and his brother U.S. Congressman Owen Lovejoy, a friend of Abraham Lincoln.

 

A2015_051_DS1
Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861.

Census records for the years 1850 and 1860 document that Phineas worked as a farmer, and articles found in the Quincy Whig (provided by the Quincy Public Library) capture his very active political life, including Lovejoy’s election to town clerk for the township of Honey Creek (April 1859). The Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls documents that, like many Illinoisans, Lovejoy swiftly joined the army on August 5, 1861, less than four months after the first shots had been fired upon Fort Sumter, and that he and his regiment took part in the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Phineas Lovejoy did not survive the war, and records consulted for this blog post do not reveal the cause of his death. What we only know for certain is that Lovejoy was mustered out on August 9, 1862, and died on that same day on the Steamer “White Cloud,” somewhere offshore near Memphis, Tennessee. Having said that, after consulting the National Park Service’s website Battle Unit Details, we do know that Lovejoy’s cavalry unit was stationed at Helena, Arkansas, from July 14, 1862, until December 1863. Historian Rhonda M. Kohl explains in her article “This Godforsaken Town”: Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63, the Union camp at Helena was a sickly place. It “created an unhealthy environment for residents and soldiers,” and “as soon as the Union troops occupied Helena, sickness [dysentery, typhoid, and malaria] overtook the men.” From Kohl’s account of the conditions at Helena, it seems likely that Phineas Lovejoy may have been seriously ill when he was mustered out in August and died while being transported north for medical treatment.   



Caption

Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861. Gift of Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M. (Rushville, Illinois). Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 007.

References

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Bateman, Newton, and Paul Selby, eds. (1899). William Owen Lovejoy. In Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County. (pp. 735-736). New York: Munsell. https://books.google.com/books?id=Oj5JAQAAMAAJ  16 October 2015.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1861). Returns of Lodges: Columbus Lodge, No. 227. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 227). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1863). War Certificates. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 15). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009

Kohl, Ronda M. “‘This Godforsaken Town:’ Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63.” Civil War History 50, no. 2 (June 2004): 109-144.

State of Illinois. “Lovejoy, Phineas.” Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.ilsos.gov/isaveterans/civilMusterSearch.do?key=154306

United States National Park Service. “3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry.” Battle Unit Details. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIL0003RC


Masonic Tintypes

A tintype is a type of photograph that is produced by printing a direct positive of an image onto a thin sheet of metal (tin) coated with a dark enamel or lacquer. This photographic process was first described in a publication by photographer Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857) in 1851 and is often referred to as the wet collodion process.Tintypes were widely enjoyed from the early 1860s to the late 1890s and were inexpensive and relatively quick and easy to make compared to their predecessor, the daguerreotype. Although tintypes were extremely popular throughout the American Civil War (1861-1865), they were soon surpassed in popularity by albumen carte-de-visites and cabinet cards.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns a fantastic collection of tintypes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes featuring Freemasons, fraternal members and their families. Below are two unique tintype objects in our collection.

Miniature “Gem” Album

2masonic tintype
Sprague Family Miniature "Gem" Album, 1875-1900, Unidentified Maker, Massachusetts, Gift of Britta Fleming, 2009.039.1, Photograph by David Bohl.

This miniature photo album, referred to as a “gem” album because of the small size of the images, measures just about 3 inches wide by 2 inches long. The photographs themselves are a tiny 3/4 by 1 inch and were created using a unique twelve-lensed camera that could make a dozen “gem” portraits with one exposure.  Gem portraits were commonly stored in special albums with provision for a single portrait per page. Slightly larger versions also existed. Some gems were cut to fit lockets, cufflinks, tiepins, rings and even garter clasps.

This album is part of a larger donation given to the museum by Britta Fleming, the niece of Harold Sprague (1887-1980), the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1952, whose Sprague family lineage is intricately tied to Massachusetts and United States history. You can read more about the Sprague family and the collection here.  

Set of 64 Masonic Portraits

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Set of 64 Masonic Portraits, 1860-1900, Unidentified Maker, New Hampshire, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2001.063, Photograph by David Bohl.

This collection of tintypes and ambrotypes is a unique example of wet plate process photography. Each of the photographs includes its' own individual frame within the larger frame, which measures a striking 21 ¾ by 38 ¼ inches. The name and age of each of the men is written on the reverse of each photograph and many of the men’s faces have been tinted pink as was commonly found in photographs of this era. At the center of the collection of images is a photograph of a bible with the Masonic square and compasses.

The museum purchased this object in 2001 and it is believed to have originated from a New Hampshire lodge and to have been made some time in the 1860s. The museum cannot verify the information and is currently researching the legible names and ages to find out where exactly the portraits were made.

References:

The Daguerrian Society, Frequently Asked Daguerreotype Questions, The Daguerrian Society website, http://www.daguerre.org/, 2015.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Photography: The Wet Collodion Process, The J. Paul Getty Museum website, http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/video/134942/photography:-the-wet-collodion-process/ 2015.

Howarth-Loomes, B.E.C., Victorian Photography, An Introduction for Collectors and Connoisseurs, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1974.


Lecture: Reinventing the Map

We are pleased to share more information about the first lecture in the fall, 2014, continuation of our Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History series:

Susan cropped_smallSaturday, September 13, 2:00 p.m.

Susan Schulten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Denver

Reinventing the Map

We live in a culture saturated with maps. We have become accustomed to making them instantly and representing virtually any type of data. Technology makes this possible, but our contemporary use of maps is rooted in a fundamental shift that took place well over a century ago. Professor Schulten will illustrate how, beginning in the nineteenth century Americans began to use maps not only to identify locations and represent the landscape, but to organize, display, and analyze information. Through maps of the agricultural data, landscape features, the distribution of slavery, census results, and the path of epidemics, Americans gradually learned to view themselves and their nation in altogether new ways. Don't miss this special lecture by the country's foremost authority on thematic mapping.

Susan Schulten is a scholar who seeks out ways to share her findings with the general public. Her work on nineteenth-century Americans' innovations in the use of maps has appeared in many locations and formats. Her latest book is Mapping the Nation: History & Cartography in 19th Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Copies of this work will be offered for sale after her lecture and the author will be on hand to sign them. In 2013 the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association awarded Mapping the Nation the Norris Hundley Prize for the most distinguished work of history published in 2012 written by a scholar living in the American and Canadian west.

Historical_Geography_Smith_croppedAs a complement to the book, Prof. Schulten has created a website of the same name that allows readers to explore the fundamentally new ways of thinking ventured into by nineteenth-century cartographers. At the site, you'll find high-resolution images of the maps featured in Mapping the Nation - it's a great teaching tool!

Schulten also writes for the New York Times "Disunion" series, which commemorates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, and on the relationship of maps and history for The New Republic. Curious readers can check out her "Disunion" post on a mysterious map of Louisiana that illustrates the thorny problems confronted by former Massachusetts governor Nathaniel P. Banks, charged with Reconstruction planning for the Gulf region. Among her many other engaging posts at "Disunion" are one on the Civil War work of noted lithographer John Bachman, originator of the "bird's-eye view" map - in a time before aerial photography! - and one on the United States Coast Survey's visualization of the 1860 U.S. slave population, so important in the Union's efforts to communicate its war aims.

Susan Schulten is professor of history and department chair at the University of Denver. She is also the author The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950 (2001). In 2010, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation grant for her work on thematic mapping. 

Upcoming programs in this series are:

Saturday, October 4, 2:00 p.m.

John Rennie Short, Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Cartographic Encounters: Native Americans in the Exploration and Mapping of North America

In this lecture Professor Short will outline the role of indigenous people in the exploration and mapping of North America. Drawing on diaries, maps, and official reports, he will demonstrate how Native American guides, informants, and mapmakers were essential to European and American exploration and mapping in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Saturday, November 22, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use an online tool to create maps that chart Metro Boston area history. Staff from the MetroBoston DataCommon, a provider of free applications that make it possible to map data, will collaborate with Joanne Riley, University Archivist at UMass Boston, to show lay historians, data fans, and map enthusiasts how visualizations of data related to our region can help us understand our history. Whether you are interested in exploring demographics, economy, the physical environment, politics or more, bring your curiosity and your questions. Our presenters will share examples and point the way to potential uses of digital mapping for your local history research. Space is limited; registration is required by November 5. Contact: programs@monh.org.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.

Image credits:

Courtesy of Susan Schulten.

Historical Geography, [S.l.], 1888. John F. Smith.  llus. in: Harper's weekly, February 28, 1863. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, LC-2002624023. This and other maps can be explored at Schulten's website, Mapping the Nation.